You did what to your customer?, or Good things come to those who wait
By harcey on Jul 01, 2007
I have been on the customer end of some unpleasant situations lately. I recently was making an overseas trip and went to the airport to check in. As usual, I booked my trip through our company process an had an itinerary in hand. When I got to the counter to check in, I was told that the ticket had not been issued. I carefully looked over my itinerary and did not see a ticket number, but there was a reservation number. I was then told that the flight was nearly full and I would have to purchase a new ticket with my personal credit card in order to secure a seat. The cost of the ticket had, of course, nearly doubled since I booked it. I said, that was against our company poicy and I refused. I was then told I needed to goto a customer service desk (at a different terminal) after waiting at the counter for over 1 hour. I refused since there was only a little more than 1 hour before the flight's departure and there was not time for that. Finally, the travel agency (who forgot to book the ticket) agreed to issue a new ticket and I was on my way. They even gave me a pass to the airline club (which by this time I of course did not have time to use), and I was on my way. That was an uncomfortable position, but I remained calm and it all worked out after a few painful hours. A esteemed collegue of mine at Sun, recently explained how he responded in a similar situation. His mail server was down for several days (which as we all know can be catastrophic). When he called support, the person at the other end of the line asked how he could help and the callers response was to thank the dedicated support people for working hard to resolve the issue. He stated that he knows they are working hard and that there work is appreciated.
So, why am I rambling on about this? I have gone through even more pain this weekend and feel that I need to explain the situation. Based on my collegues response to a uncomfortable position, I now always try to consider how the person at the other end of the line feels and try to thank them for their hard work rather than the more obvious response, anger.
So, I went to the AT&T store on Friday night at about 5:45 and got in line, with my 3 1/2 year old son to try to get in iPhone. I was ready to bail on the wait if it appeared that my son was not in the mood to wait. He did well, even though we had to wait for 45 min. in line (not too bad). After we saw the first people getting their iPhone's and saying if was worth the wait, standing in line was no big deal. We were greeted at the front door and my son was given some chocolate so he was very happy. We picked out a case and payed for the iPhone. There was a camera woman taking photos of use and asking us to pose. My son help up the iPhone and smiled for the camera, and we were off. We had a nice meal and dessert, then went home. After the normal routine, I was ready to unbox the iPhone and activate it through iTunes at 10 PM. I started the process and after submitting the activation request to transfer a current account, I got the (now infamously dreaded) message that the activation will take additional time to complete and I would be notified via email once it was done. I called support the next morning when I still did not get word. I talked to several people, and was told to just wait longer, it could take 24 to 48 hours due to the volume of activations. Then I finally got an email at 2:00 in the afternoon stated that I needed to call to select a rate plan. I was on the old AT&T blue plan with my business account and they did not know how to transfer it. I told them I did not want it transferred, I just wanted the plan I asked for in the Store. I pleasantly thanked them for all their help and thanked them for working hard to get all of us up and running. I verified the plan and was told that activation would happen shortly and I would get an email once it was done. I waited all night and in the morning still did not get word. At this point (ever since the last afternoon when I selected the rate plan, my old phone was deactivated. Now I have no cell phone and no activation email. At this point I am finding it harder to remain opptomistic and late morning, Sunday, decide to call again. I spoke with MANY people, and kept getting transferred and told to to try things that did not make any sense or were not possible \*like going through the activation screens again, which iTunes prevents from happening). This is a new process for them so I tried to remain calm. I finally ased to talk to a supervisor after being transferred from support to the "sync" department back to support, and then an attempt to transfer me back to the "synch" department (warning: infinite loop ensuing) who told me they only handle new activations, not account migrations. Once I spoke to the supervisor, I explained my situation, and how people seemed to be trying to help, but no one appears to know how to handle my situation. I said her people were very friendly and seemed to want to help, but the situation was not getting resolved. She stepped up big time and offered to call me back after she looked into the situation. I did not expect to hear from her again, but she called back a few minutes later and got several people involved to diagnose and fix the issue, in fact, one of the people she put me in contact with actually pleaded with me to stay on the line (even though the hold was long) as she worked to find who could help. She seemed sincere and really seemed to want to know what the issue was so they could help other users with similar problems. By this time over 40 hours had elapsed since the original iTunes activation. AT&T finally exhausted all options and transferred me to Apple (who she had been speaking with on my behalf). Once I talked to Apple the original guy was asking about my computer setup, etc. After he had exhausted all his ideas, he transferred me to the iPhone department. The wait on this hold line was painful another 45 minutes (after already being on the phone for several hours). Luckily, most of this time was on hold and I was just playing with my son and had no urgent plans to leave the house (which was a good thing since I had no working cell phone anymore). I tried several computers and always got the same message about waiting for activation. Finally the guy asked me for the serial number of my iPhone so he could register it. I had to take the slim leather case off to see the serial number on the back. I had been plugging the cable directly into the iPhone the entire time rather than using the cable to the dock and putting the iPhone in the dock. After getting the serial number, I had the case off already, so I put the phone in the dock and plugged the cable into the dock instead of direct to the phone. To my surprise (and the guy at Apple) the iPhone immediately was activated. I am not sure if it had anything to do with the dock, or just was a coincidence, nor do I ever want to go through a similar painful experience to find out. But now life is good and my fancy iPhone actually does it's thing after almost 41 painful hours of waiting. The funny thing is I am so excited to get the iPhone, that I am more happy that it works, than mad at the painful experience that I had to endure. I will do my best to repress those 41 hours of anticipation.